An increasing number of health problems in the population and an uneven distribution of health between different groups in the society, have been identified as a problems and has therefore been put on the political agenda in Sweden. Thus, the purpose of this thesis is to estimate and discuss the significance an individual’s behaviour, in a number of areas, has on his/her level of health.
The empirical material for this thesis is taken from a nationwide inquiry conducted in 2004,which was called “Hälsa på lika villkor?” (Health on equal terms?) The material used consists of the answers and records from individuals living in the administrative district of Kronoberg. 9972 individuals were included in the sample and the answering frequency was 63,2%. To map and analyse the material, which was done mainly through crosstabs, chi-square tests and logistic regressions, the statistics software SPSS 11.5 was used.
The parameter used to measure the health level is the individual’s own perception of his or her general health. The estimated health levels “very good” and “good” are referred to as good health, while the health levels “reasonable”, “bad” or “very bad” are put into a category named inferior health. The thesis is limited by putting the main focus on the differences in health between groups divided by three different factors: gender, country of birth and socioeconomic belonging. An analysis of the material shows that men have better health than women, civil servants have better health than all the others and individuals that are born in Europe but outside the Nordic countries have significantly worse health than others.
Grossman’s theory on the demand for health is used to identify factors that affect the relationship between behaviour and health. The so called environmental factors influence the gross effect, and the depreciation rate the net effect, of certain behaviour. Education, sleep and stress are identified as environmental factors, and age, BMI and the work environment are shown to affect the depreciation rate of health capital. The level of stress a certain individual experience is a factor that has a particular strong connection with the increased probability of experiencing an inferior health.
Everyday smoking and a sedentary spare time distinctively increases the risk of a lower health level. In addition, the inclination to refrain from using professional health care, even though you believe you need it, increases the risk of inferior health. The results don’t give the same strong evidence for a connection between the health level and the everyday consumption of snuff or the risk consumption of alcohol, but they still indicate that both these factors are associated with an increased risk for inferior health. However, no connection between the eating habits, in this investigation indicated by the consumption of fruit and vegetables, and the self estimated general health, could be found.
The concluding analysis show that the differences in health within groups differentiated between socioeconomic belonging mainly can be explained by differences in health related behaviour. This, when factors, which according to the theory affects the connection between behaviour and health, have been considered. The differences in health between men and women, and between individuals born in Europe but outside the Nordic countries and others, can to some, but considerably lesser extent, be explained by the differences in the healthrelated behaviour.
Ekonomiska institutionen , 2006. , 67 p.